Specialty Program

Emotional Well-being Program

Epilepsy, like other long-term medical disorders, can affect a person’s emotional, psychological, social, and occupational functioning as well as their quality of life. Adjusting to the new diagnosis of epilepsy and other life changes can be challenging. Understandably, shifts in mood and emotional functioning are not an uncommon reaction. Additionally, some patients experience mood changes as a result of seizure activity; this is because electrical discharges in the brain occur in, or close to, brain structures that control emotion. As a result of a combination of these reasons mentioned above, depression and anxiety are much more prevalent in patients who have epilepsy than in the average population.

Detecting depression and anxiety in a patient with epilepsy and starting timely treatment is extremely important. It requires a team approach between the epileptologists and mental health professionals. Once the diagnosis is made, psychotherapeutic interventions can be very useful in treating the symptoms and in helping the patient and their family to cope better with other aspects of seizures and epilepsy. Furthermore, psychological treatment can have a positive and limited effect on seizures since it targets emotional distress which can be a seizure trigger. Research has shown that managing stress and learning effective coping strategies can have a positive effect on seizure frequency and other health related behaviors.

Psychotherapy can be supportive in nature, helping the person strengthen healthy coping mechanisms already in use by the person. It also provides a safe environment where the patient can process his/her reaction to the illness and any secondary changes in his/her life. Additionally, psychotherapy can also teach anxiety reduction and symptom and anger management techniques which can have an important impact on emotional health, as well as personal and professional relationships. Psychological treatment also focuses on wellness with the aim of improving sleep hygiene, diet, exercise, and other aspects of a person’s self-care. Psychological treatment in our programs can be provided in either individual or a group setting and may include cognitive behavioral, mindfulness-based, psychoeducational, and trauma-focused modalities.

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